I wasn't planning on putting out another blog post this summer. Yet, just three weeks into summer vacation, and I find myself needing to do just that. Twitter has been a great source of much learning and reflection these last few weeks. (Being out of the classroom means I have more time to devote to this new obsession!) I find myself answering various chat questions with the same answer... don't be afraid to fail. Take that risk. The last time I typed it was in response to what would you put on your classroom walls for your students to see everyday.
When I took my kids to see Finding Dory (a fabulous movie) this morning, there was a Pixar short called, "Piper". The whole time I was watching, I was thinking about how I could apply it in my classroom. (Spoiler alert) Watching the baby bird go through failure after failure, only to be rewarded even bigger than expected was exactly what I wanted my students to understand.
After the movie, as I was scrolling through my feed, an opportunity came up that would stretch me once again. Part of it is something I have done a few times, but with a new, and much bigger, audience. (Not going into the details just in case I am not accepted. It's the process that's the point.) Just reading the opportunity made me nervous. The more I investigated, the more nervous I got. Could I really be thinking about it? What could happen if I was rejected? The answer to the last question is nothing. No one I know would even know that I tried. (Ok, 2 people would as I asked their opinion for part of it, but they are supportive.) Then again, if I don't try, nothing will happen either.
I guess the biggest reason I decided to try was my students. I want to be able to share that I had the chance to try something new, whether I was accepted or not. I want them to see that there is nothing wrong with taking a risk if you are not afraid to fail. Students want to know that you know what you are talking about. They want to see that you "get it". It's time for me to walk the talk.
I may not know for months if my risk paid off, but taking the chance itself is a huge step. If I get accepted, I am sure there will be another blog later in the year. If not, maybe there will be an even better blog. Either way, I am not going to be afraid to fail.
As a kid dreaming of becoming a teacher, I fed into the sterotype/misconception that teachers work the same hours that students go to school and have the summers off. I was definitely wrong in both cases. Teachers work much longer than the students go to school. We work well beyond the bell, taking things home to do in the evenings and on weekends. (Something my husband learned the hard way.) And while we don't technically work in the classroom over the summer (except for those who work summer school or at year round campuses), we don't get paid for that time and very rarely are we "off".
This summer my list of activities I want to accomplish is growing by the day. Most of them have to do with improving how I teach.
1. Through my wonderful PLN on Twitter, I discovered many resources that I need (not want) to check out further. So first on my list is to read. I am a big reader, just not usually non-fiction books. Which is why I was surprised to hear myself tell my husband I wanted teaching books for my mother's day gift this year. The hard part comes with deciding which to read first. Since my Twitter friends decided to start a book club (also a first for me to do), I am starting with The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros (@gcouros). Having joined a twitter chat with Mr. Couros as a moderator, I was excited to start the journey through his work. I also can't wait to discuss what it means with those in the book club. My second choice will probably Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller (@jmattmiller, #ditchbook chat). As I have already "ditched my textbooks", I am looking forward to what he has to say. Next up is probably Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (@burgessdave, #tlap chat), followed by Explore like a Pirate by Michael Matera (@mrmatera, #xlap) chat. Not so sure about being a pirate, I am all for the idea of being "daring and adventurous". I am looking forward to how these resources will help my classroom change even more. (Pretty sure I will get Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz by the end of the summer as well. #LearnLAP) While I read, I also plan to practice my sketchnoting skills, but that is another story.
2. Just before I went to the CUE conference this spring (see earlier blog post), I had heard about hyperdocs. Even though I wasn't sure what they were, I am intrigued by anything that is technology based and more student centered. Once I heard Lisa Highfill (@lhighfill) speak, I knew I had to know more. (The book is coming out in June, so I will add it to the list above as well.) Thankfully there are several resources on the web, as well as #TsgiveTs (Teachers Give Teachers), to get me started. Lisa can explain it much better than I can:
"With one shortened link, students can access a lesson that contains instructions, links, tasks, and many clever ways to get kids thinking. Focusing on creating opportunities for choice, exploration, and ways for kids to apply their knowledge is key to creating a truly innovative hyperdoc." (HyperDocs - Changing Digital Pedagogy, 7/30/2014, https://sites.google.com/a/googleteacheracademy.com/2014-07-30/agenda/room3)
3. There are also 3 training sessions/conferences I am attending. First up is the district training for going 1:1 with Chromebooks. Having had 1:1 ASUS tablets for the last year and a half, I look forward to seeing how I can innovate with the Chromebooks as well as where the district would like to see technology go with our students. In July, I am heading to #CUERockstar with several colleagues, some new to tech, others improving their skills. If it is anything like what I experienced in March, we will all walk away from it knowing a whole lot more. My last training is just before school starts on how to have cohesive language and professional practices across classrooms.
While 3 items doesn't seem like a long list, the power behind them is huge. I do have a couple of personal outings (such as a quick trip to the Grand Canyon and a short cruise to Mexico, both a first for me!) to help balance myself and keep life in perspective.
What I hope to learn:
-How hyperdocs are made and what students do with them
-How to become a pirate and allow my students to become pirates themselves
-How my classroom can become more student centered and innovative
My blog will be take a break over the summer. Have a great one and see you in the fall!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching